New York Cities and Towns Going Broke, Laying Off Police and Firemen

The Syracuse Post Standard has a long story today about the fiscal situation in cities and towns across the state of New York. It’s a real mess. Many municipalities are laying off police and fire personnel. Some are raising taxes, and almost all of them are turning to Albany to bail them out. Few are talking about doing anything to get to the root of the problem.

Mayor Stephanie Miner says Syracuse is near a financial crisis, but instead of raising taxes and gutting city services, she’s asking Albany leaders to rescue Syracuse and other cash-strapped cities.

Miner is not the only mayor looking toward Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state leaders for more help paying rising pension and health-care costs that far outweigh local property and sales tax receipts.

But some other mayors — whose cities appear in more dire straits than Syracuse — aren’t waiting for Albany. They are cutting police and firefighter jobs and parks staff and reducing swimming pool hours to try to get through the next year. …

But Miner doesn’t want to use the same tactics in Syracuse, at least not yet. She says those types of cuts would hurt local residents and programs without solving the multimillion-dollar problems facing cities.

Consider this: Raising Syracuse’s property taxes by 1 percent would raise an extra $335,000. To pay the city’s $30 million pension bill, property taxes would have to jump by 100 percent. Or, put another way, Miner could eliminate the entire city fire department, another $30 million cost, to come up with the money.

“When you have a multimillion pension bill, the math doesn’t work,” Miner said. Cutting entire swaths of city government? “I don’t think the symbolism of it carries the day.”

Read the whole thing. Did anyone quoted in that article mention a solution to the problem that I missed, other than hoping for an economic upturn to bring in more revenue? They’re all so afraid of the unions, they refuse to recognize the mammoth elephant in the middle of the room. Heck, they won’t even do the one thing that would guarantee bringing in more revenue to state coffers.